Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was the most popular and admired American poet of the nineteenth century. Born in Portland, Maine, and educated at Bowdoin College, Longfellow’s ambition was always to become a writer; but until mid-life his first profession was the teaching rather than the production of literature, at his alma mater (1829-35) and then at Harvard (1836-54). His teaching career was punctuated by two extended study-tours of Europe, during which Longfellow made himself fluent in all the major Romance and Germanic languages. Thanks to a fortunate marriage and the growing popularity of his work, from his mid-thirties onwards Longfellow, ensconced in a comfortable Cambridge mansion, was able to devote an increasingly large fraction of his energies to the long narrative historical and mythic poems that made him a household word, especially Evangeline (1847), The Song of Hiawatha (1855), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), and Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863, 1872, 1873). Versatile as well as prolific, Longfellow also won fame as a writer of short ballads and lyrics, and experimented in the essay, the short story, the novel, and the verse drama. Taken as a whole, Longfellow’s writings show a breadth of literary learning, an understanding of western languages and cultures, unmatched by any American writer of his time.
Selected Poemsby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow's most familiar poems, the bold recreations of colonial life "Evangeline" and "The Courtship of Miles Standish," are here, as
The most popular poet of his day, Longfellow has, unfortunately, been discredited by posterity. This generous sampling of his work will give modern-day readers new insights into his long-neglected literary reach and versatility.
Longfellow's most familiar poems, the bold recreations of colonial life "Evangeline" and "The Courtship of Miles Standish," are here, as well as less familiar short lyrics and narrative poems. Differing in tone, style, and theme, the works provide a full and authentic picture of Longfellow's sense of himself, and his understanding of the true state of the times in which he lived. As Lawrence Buell writes in his Introduction, "No one can fully comprehend the literary culture of nineteenth-century America without coming to terms with Longfellow's work."
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